A recent article reveals that there was institutional resistance within NSA to domestic mass surveillance. I am not surprised. There is no question that suspicionless mass surveillance of Americans violates the very DNA of NSA. Since the Church and Pike Committees of 1976, the mantra of the agency was Thou Shalt Not Surveil Americans.

When they began doing precisely that with the inception of "the Program," as President Bush's program of warrantless domestic mass surveillance was called, the early NSA whistleblowers resigned from their positions, and they filed formal complaints alleging waste, fraud and abuse with the Inspectors General of DOD, NSA, and DOJ.

Diane Roarke, the ranking staffer handling the NSA account at the House Committee on Intelligence, complained repeatedly to then-DCI Michael Hayden. Her account of their last meeting is memorable. She says that Hayden could not look her in the eye, and he explained to her that he had approval to conduct mass surveillance on Americans from the highest levels of government, from the President himself.

President George Bush was certainly aware of the Program, it was called the President's Terrorist Surveillance Program, or alternatively the President's Surveillance Program (PSP), and he did authorize it, but multiple accounts indicate that it was the brainchild of Vice President Dick Cheney. It was the office of the Vice President that championed the Program and steamrolled over all bureaucratic resistance. 

I suspect that somebody else was pulling Cheney's strings, but I also believe in the existence of the Illuminati and I subscribe to a conspiratorial view of history, so pay me no mind. Cheney's staff lawyer, David Addington, was the prime mover. Hayden was the DCI who re-authorized the Program, after then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey got hinky, uncomfortable with a radical reinterpretation of the President's powers under Article II of the Constitution.

This is how freedom in America died. Cheney put Addington in play, Addington wrote the foundational legal opinions rationalizing the mass surveillance of Americans, and good soldiers Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander executed the plan. Many protested, but to no avail. Most early NSA critics were destroyed financially and professionally, though their protests were legal, proper, and founded on a deep appreciation of their duty to uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The way that these critics were treated may represent the nadir of our history as a Republic. Their prosecution was shameful. I am not aware that any apology was ever rendered.

Edward Snowden emphasizes that the experiences of earlier NSA whistleblowers and dissenters like Diane Roarke, Kurt Wiebe, Thomas Drake, Ed Loomis, William Binney, Russell Tice, James Risen and Thomas Tamm led him to the realization that he would have to steal a massive cache of classified documents, lest he be marginalized and neutralized as they were. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

There is no question in my mind that these gentlemen, Cheney, Addington, Hayden, Alexander, all need to be called to testify before a Joint Special Committee on Mass Surveillance, and they need to be read their rights before they open their mouths.

Many of them should be in a Supermax wearing orange jumpsuits, along with other conspirators.

Appearing before a joint congressional hearing will do for a start.

American Warmongers

Americans are warmongers. Most of us just do not realize it.

Most Americans are not impacted by our wars. We fight them using a praetorian class of professional soldiers who volunteer to go to war.

At worst, we Americans grumble about our taxes, but we pay them. Sometimes editorialists will complain about American imperialism, and strategists will claim that our wars are stupid and counterproductive, but that is pretty much the limit of popular resistance to American wars. There are no hippies complaining and protesting as there were in the Vietnam war era. We have no modern Jane Fonda, though the "winter soldier" John Kerry merits mockery as Secretary of State. 

Our soldiers die in our wars, and we mourn their loss deeply, but we also lavish our military with equipment and technology to a point where more of us survive incidents that used to be fatal than any previous time in history. We have never had so many amputees.

If there is a quid pro quo between America and its soldiers, this is probably it: Just keep the Veteran's Administration funded. We will fight your wars.

No other Army in the annals of warfare is so capable of demolishing enemies and suffering minimal effects from the exercise. We used to lose thousands of lives during the Vietnam conflict in a single day. Modern kill ratios are monstrously in our favor. I would not have it any other way.

We soldiers mourn our dead, and we would like it if our leaders were worthy of our sacrifice. But we mostly do not care. We are soldiers. We will go to other countries and dispense American policies at gunpoint whether it is a nice thing to do or not. We will not follow illegal orders, but short of that we obey our commanders. We are soldiers.

The American military industrial complex that Ike warned us about has found its sweet spot. Civilians are not inconvenienced by war, and the arms industry makes more guns and bullets and bombs and missiles than ever, getting paid with money that is barely worthy of the term. When the government needs more funds to pay for more munitions, the Treasury just sends over an IOU to the Fed, and it prints them. This is a vast oversimplification, of course, but fundamentally, this is what happens. 

Every bomb dropped overseas represents a job that an American worker retains. We drop a lot of bombs. The corporations that make them are crazy wealthy, and they charge our military top dollar for weapons systems and munitions. So the Pentagon goes to Congress and says "we need more money to buy more bombs." Our Congress marks up the budget, Treasury sends that IOU over to the Fed, and the war machine gets fed.

Nobody is troubled by our hypocrisy or our immorality except foreign critics, and most Americans pay them no mind. Americans just keep going to the mall. Soldiers go to war, mostly for the adventure of it all, I guess. American politicians are never held responsible for any of this, and the losers are the people that we kill overseas, in antiseptic campaigns that we experience as YouTube clips.

It is a pretty sweet racket. Except for those that we kill.

Very few of us truly care about the victims. They are out of sight, out of mind. No adversary has brought the war home to America, excepting the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, and Al Qaeda on 9-11. God help them if they do it again.

The difference between Americans going to the mall, and Americans baying for the blood of "terrorists™," will be something to behold.

Mark my words.

Me and Hafftka on the HuffPo

I forgot to publish this here today.

This is a beautiful piece curated by my friends Michael and Yonat Hafftka featuring Michael's art riffing off of text excerpts from my book on Operation Urgent Fury.

I put this up on Facebook, but I forgot to post it here. 

I will figure out how to publish to all of these platforms eventually.

My book is all but done. I thank you all for waiting so long. 

I first wrote it in 1991, after I resigned from DEA. It started out very differently. It was originally the opening chapters of a larger book that was mostly about the drug war in South America.

That book comes next. Much of it, maybe 90% of it, is already done. I need to get some photographs out of storage to illustrate it. I have some wicked photos to go along with it.

At some point I realized that the chapters about Urgent Fury were actually a book all to themselves, so I reworked them and I polished the narrative and I wove a tapestry that ended up being a very weird book about war. 

It is also a book about PTSD, though I do not come right out and say that acronym. I barely heard the expression "PTSD" at the time that I wrote the early drafts, but over decades I realized that the disorder, as it is understood by modern psychiatry, was a fundamental influence on the writing.

As I stated on Facebook and on SOCNET for years, I do not consider PTSD a "disorder." Modern psychiatry considers it a disorder because it compares survivors of trauma with a civilian baseline. Anyone that knows a combat soldier knows that we are different from civilians.

What PTSD is, in my opinion, is a nervous system adaptation, an evolutionary modification by the human animal in response to traumatic stress. You see similar manifestations, or symptoms, in survivors of car wrecks, or survivors of house fires, or survivors of street violence. You see symptoms of PTSD in survivors of domestic violence. Soldiers hold no monopoly on it.

But thanks to the VA, we now possess a vast literature on PTSD, mostly addressing the ways that it affects veterans of American wars.

I will talk more about this soon.

I am Crazy

Those who push back the hardest against the Snowden compromises and the ongoing debate over suspicionless mass surveillance work for the intelligence community. 

It is understandable. Those who work in SIGINT are subjected to strict minimization procedures. Minimization refers to regulations and rules which are intended to protect the data of American citizens. 

It has long been traditional in NSA, since the Church Hearings, and the Pike Hearings, in 1976, that surveillance of American citizens is off limits. This is a core organizational belief that has been internalized into the DNA of the organizational culture of NSA. 

It is a default reflex for NSA employees. Thou shalt not spy on Americans. They are retrained on this, they sign agreements on it, it is part of their annual recertification, and recertification is mandatory in most compartments. 

Some employees confuse this, and they consider it proof that NSA does not engage in suspicionless mass surveillance of American citizens. The mistake that they make is assuming that this core belief is intact throughout the agency, that it is not violated by certain programs. 

This belief is only valid in those compartments where employees engage in foreign intelligence surveillance. You know. What they are supposed to be doing. By statute. Their real jobs. Nobody has complaints about that. We are talking about something else. 

This is one reason why what was then called "The Program" was so highly classified. It was illegal, and it was contrary to the very DNA of the NSA. It was an inversion of the values inculcated in NSA employees. 

When you watch the Frontline interviews that I keep harping about, you realize that most of the perpetrators clearly understood that the Program was illegal.

David Addington, staff lawyer to the office of the vice president, who at that time was Dick Cheney, was the conspirator who pressured former DIRNSA, former DCI, Michael Hayden. I deliberately call Addington a conspirator, because I believe that he committed high crimes against the Constitution. Hayden talks about this phone call in his Frontline interview. 

Addington told Hayden straight up, "the Acting Attorney General is refusing to endorse this program, so we will have to go dark, unless you reauthorize it." The dispute was over an interpretation of the president's Article II powers under the Constitution. 

Hayden had authorized the Program previously, it was up for renewal, when our current Director of the FBI, Director Jim Comey, could not swallow his reservations and he declined to endorse it. Comey was then an Assistant Attorney General at DOJ, and he was temporarily acting as the Attorney General. Comey was not initially read into the compartment that protected the Program. He suspected that it was illegal, and after he was briefed, he realized that he was right. He was subsequently steamrolled. Others say "persuaded." I say steamrolled. He obviously played ball. He is now Director of the FBI. Director Comey, who has a bizarre reputation for integrity, is part of our national nightmare. 

Hayden said that he would reauthorize the Program, accepting the radical reinterpretation of the president's  Article II powers under the Constitution, even though the Acting Attorney General refused to endorse it, and that was that. Hayden blamed his three staff lawyers, who were sensational lawyers, according to him, and they all three independently concluded that the Program was legal and that Hayden was within his authority to reauthorize it. That was enough for Hayden to claim that he had legal cover to reauthorize an unconstitutional violation of the rights of American citizens, even when the Acting Attorney General refused to do so. 

This was an outright violation of the Constitution, and Hayden knew it.  Hayden knew that this decision would come back to haunt him, and it has, but not nearly enough. If I have anything to say about this, Hayden will be testifying under oath before a Joint Special Committee on Mass Surveillance, and he will be read his rights before he opens his mouth. He should be prosecuted, along with Keith Alexander, and James Clapper. 

Hayden actually characterized the domestic mass surveillance as "warrantless" surveillance, but not "unwarranted."

Hayden knew exactly what he had done. Like any smart spook, he got out in front of the decision, and he put his spin on it. As a consequence, it has not received the scrutiny from Congress that it deserves. The Gang of Eight apparently felt like it did not merit closer scrutiny, so they gave him a pass. 

All of this is detailed in those Frontline interviews. No honest viewer can watch them and deny that illegal activities were taking place, and are still taking place. 

This is why I tell defenders of NSA that they are unequipped to have an informed conversation with me. Telling me what your bosses told you in classified briefings to keep you in line carries no weight with me. Not when Hayden confesses that he broke the law, and NSA apologists cannot be bothered to even scan the transcript. 

At a certain point, all of this has to become so uncomfortable for conscientious members of the intelligence community that they have no option but to dismiss me and people like me as insane. 

The alternative would entail them admitting that something illegal happened, and that something illegal is still happening. 

The legal justifications for these programs, specifically the domestic mass surveillance, authorized under Patriot Act Section 215, FISA Amendments Act 702, and Executive Order 12333, are weak and tortured. Compounding the insult, the FISC is not a court, despite its name. If it were truly a "foreign intelligence court," it would address solely foreign intelligence matters before it, and it would not authorize domestic mass surveillance. Real courts feature adversarial representation. The FISC meets in secret, the DOJ lawyers that appear before it do so secretly, and its decisions and orders are classified. The FISC is a Star Chamber. 

There are a bunch of people who have broken the law, under any interpretation. 

No one wants to address this, because it would reach deep and far, and once you let that pony out of the stable, there is no way to determine how far and how hard that the pony will run, and the consequences could be dire for distinguished people in particular agencies, and folks who have retired. Some of them could be brought up on criminal charges. 

One problem is that these programs, like any government programs, are rarely shut down when they have served their purpose. The program then known as "The Program" itself was supposed to be temporary, an exigent fix for the fear that gripped the country after 9-11. 

Now the intelligence community is addicted to the take, they like what they can do with this data, they are still learning how to use it and exploit it, and there are shops in the IC that are doing some truly sobering things with it. NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake pulls no punches, describing the US government as a "criminal enterprise subverting the Constitution of the United States," an "anathema form of government."

Congress keeps cutting NSA billion dollar checks to fund what are now many programs, and NSA has metastasized a flourishing ecosystem of black projects worldwide in the form of FVEY. Black budgets, no oversight. Nobody babysits FVEY. It is a transnational entity operating in secrecy, under no independent oversight. 

The original NSA dissidents, Binney, Wiebe, Drake, Loomis, Roarke, et al, they originally tried to report a specific slice of the original Program in the form of government waste, fraud and abuse, because some aspects of these programs did not even work, and the government was buried in big data that it could not handle. They did not even raise the Constitutional violations, at least not at first. 

In response FBI HRT pulled dynamic entries on their homes, menaced their children at gunpoint, and the DOJ destroyed them financially. None of these early NSA dissidents were ever prosecuted successfully. Drake pled guilty to wrongful use of a government computer. A misdemeanor. He did it to end the malicious prosecution that bankrupted him and demolished his family. Our government waged war on these American patriots, and nobody has been held accountable for it. Our government can do this to any one of us. 

A leaker from within DOJ made sure that Binney received an illicit copy of a draft indictment, because it was evidence of malicious prosecution. Binney then called Drake on his landline in the clear, knowing that the FBI was recording from the van in front of his house, and he told him that he was going to sue the government and that he was going to give the draft indictment to the judge and demand that charges be brought. 

Two weeks later, Binney received notice that all charges were dropped.

This is all documented fact. Binney talks about this in his many interviews available on YouTube. The government does not want you to know about it, because then you might wonder why so many otherwise reputable people are pitching a fit over suspicionless mass surveillance. 

This is why Snowden matters. He exfiltrated a couple hundred thousand documents, and the government increasingly understands exactly which ones. There is no way for the government to marginalize Snowden, not when he can demonstrate that the government is lying by citing its own documents. 

The NSA cheerleaders try to malign Snowden, because they get their toast buttered by the intelligence community, and they do not want to disrupt their gravy train. It is an automatic reflex by now, shooting the messenger. 

When you cannot argue the facts because the facts are not in your favor, you fall back to regulations and rules. When those are insufficient to contain the blowback, you shoot the messenger. That is what we are seeing with the government response to the Snowden compromises. Character assassination. 

For many people, at a fundamental level, this is all about money. Their pensions. Their monthly salary. Their clearances. The suits in these agencies employ fear to keep their employees in line. They spoon-feed them classified briefings reinforcing that "everything is fine, everything is legal, just continue doing your jobs." They believe that everything will just blow over, and America will go back to sleep. And they would be correct. Except that Greenwald has released like ten percent, at most, of the known Snowden documents in his archive. And Greenwald keeps publishing new ones every couple of weeks. 

If there are ever hearings, Congressional hearings, if there is ever a Joint Special Committee on Mass Surveillance convened, the impact will be seismic. 

For those of you who wonder why I am so pissed off about this, it is because of Director Hoover. He could not be fired by successive presidential administrations because he had dirt on everybody. 

The potential abuses of these programs could mean the death of America as we know it. 

So that is why I am crazy. 

Everybody clear now?

On Soldiering.

America will always have soldiers, and there will always be soldiers, even after America is dust in history books. It is part of the human condition. 

American soldiers will go to any war and fight for any cause that their leadership dictates. As we now have a de facto praetorian class, a martial class, an all-volunteer military that is selective about its recruits, we liberate the American people from the inconveniences of a permanent war economy. They do not have to think about it much.

While soldiers fight and die and live in mud, Americans go to Wal-Mart and the movies. I am not the only soldier who came home from combat and experienced the dissonance between war and a homeland at peace. War and peace are a plane ride apart.

Americans dimly sense this, so they say “thank you for your service,” when they really do not need to thank us. Saying this gets them off the hook. They performed their patriotic duty for the day in thanking us, so they can move on to more important shit, like, you know, surfing the mall. 

I tell Americans all of the time that there is no need to thank me for my service. It was my honor, and my only regret is that I could not do it longer and harder. That is not just rhetoric. It is true. That is my lone regret. 

I do not agonize over whether my wars were legitimate or not. In retrospect, I realize that they were weakly legitimate at best. I do not care, and I did not care at the time. I was a professional soldier. All that I cared about was my own honor and the warriors at my side. All that I asked God for was to be worthy of them and to not let them down. To my everlasting gratitude, He granted me that much. Nothing else matters. Not to me.

Not even the cost that my own service inflicted on me matters that much. My mind and my body are wrecked, no doubt. Those are the stakes. Big boy rules. If you cannot run with the big dogs, you best not try to piss in the tall grass. 

Fortunately, we have the Veteran's Administration for those of us who did not die in battle. The VA is imperfect, but the compact between America and her soldiers remains intact, as far as I am concerned. I am grateful for the VA, and I thank those good employees who prioritize veterans over their own bonuses. 

Nobody should think that you can go to combat and walk away untouched, assuming that you survive. Make no mistake. You can consider yourself told because I am telling you now: You will pay a price.

For many of us, it truly does not matter whether our wars are just, or whether our leadership is worthy of us. Sadly, both are untrue, and have been untrue, since the Korean War. We will volunteer to be soldiers anyway. We will volunteer to go to combat, we will volunteer to fight America’s wars. Nobody compels us to sign our oaths of enlistment, our oaths of commissioning. We may feel compelled, but it is an internal compulsion, and one that I do not understand. 

I do know that Westphalian nation-states need their soldiers. No country can exist in our current form of civilization without them. Not Costa Rica, not Japan, not Switzerland. Every nation has soldiers and needs them. Fortunately for America, our population is so vast that there will always be enough kids with a wild hair up their ass to keep the ranks replenished. My tribe.

I am under no illusions about my beloved America, and there is no question that Ike's warning about a military-industrial complex came to pass. America is now a country permanently at war, soldiers have gone in harm's way somewhere every year for as long as we can remember. Our war economy likes it when we fire million dollar cruise missiles or $50,000 Hellfires. People get paid. That is America now. It is not pretty. But it is factual. Anyone who is confused needs to go back and read Smedley Butler. The man told no lies. 

Some of us have a profound craving to face the ultimate challenge, which is combat. I could not tell you why. I do not understand this, and I have thought about it. Patriotism is not the answer. Patriotism gets you into the recruiter's office, and into Basic Training. For some of us, patriotism sustains us beyond that, but not unmodified. At most, patriotism is a partial explanation.

I am not talking about soldiers who do safe jobs. I am talking about grunts, volunteers for elite units, infantry, paratroopers, Rangers, Special Forces. Soldiers in safe jobs happen to wear a uniform while they do it. They can be proud of their service, we do need them, and any one of them can end up under fire, but they are not the teenagers who walk into the recruiter's office and point at the Ranger poster and tell the recruiter that they will settle for nothing less. 

Combat soldiers volunteer for combat. When bullets are flying, you are not fighting out of patriotism. You are engaged in a life and death struggle. 

Some of us are called to the profession of arms. I do not know why. 

Do you?

The Forbidden

The campaign of character assassination waged against Edward Snowden is doomed to fail.
Snowden belongs to history. He will be judged by history. Yes, Snowden has immediate legal difficulties in the form of sealed espionage indictments, but whether Snowden ever serves a day in jail is no more than a detail in the larger tale. 
The Snowden story told a hundred years from now will not resemble the fantasies that you read in mainstream media at this time. 
Many are opinionated about Snowden. He is a divisive character. What dismays me is how folks who have a cursory understanding of the issues that he raised feel no compunction about judging him, and harshly. 
“Snowden is a traitor,” is a common comment. I have no patience for this sort of bluster. Anyone who believes this has not done the work of understanding what he exposed. In short, you are permitting your opinions to be dictated to you by mass media, and while it may feel comfortable now, this view is based upon false premises, and you will experience cognitive dissonance as time passes and emerging facts undermine your views. 
If you believe that Snowden is a traitor, then you do not understand the implications of the programs that he blew. Bottom line. 
If you parrot the party line, and mindlessly regurgitate the “facts” as his critics have shaped them, you are participating in a form of group-think that enslaves you. 
Snowden, as so many of us are, is an imperfect vehicle for our aspirations. So we should cease trying to control his person and his image and stop trying to use them in a peripheral battle that does not need to be fought. 
The controversy is not over the patriotism or the treason of Edward Snowden. It is over the facts of mass surveillance as waged by the US government and its FVEY cohorts against the American people and the people of the world. That is the core issue. This is the core issue that NSA and its deep state defenders do not want you thinking about. They want you distracted with circuses and bread, they want you chanting “Snowden is a traitor,” and they absolutely do not want you to read any of the documents that Snowden revealed. 
Those documents are illegal. They are classified. You do not have the clearance to read them. Our overseers will throw a barrage of rationales at you as they attempt to distract you from those inconvenient documents. So my conviction is that you should read them. You must read them. If you do read them, you will come away with an informed opinion, and “Snowden is a traitor” will not be the foremost thought in your mind. I guarantee this. 
Some say that the NSA has a statutory mandate to surveil the world. I believe that NSA believes this to be true. When NSA engages in its statutory tasks which are explained in its organizational charter, its targets and purposes are defined. No one opposes the core task of securing the homeland. But “collect everything, collect on everyone, globally, all the time, forever,” is not enshrined in the NSA charter. It is a fundamental overreach, and it violates the Fourth Amendment. 
It is when the NSA surveils the American people in order to anticipate terrorism that we cross lines and run afoul of our national character. When more Americans are surveilled by NSA than North Koreans, we have a problem. When more Americans are surveilled than Iranians, we have a problem. When more Americans are surveilled than Chinese or Russians, we have a problem. 
NSA believes that we must surveil everybody in the world, the entire world is a target, because that is how NSA proposes to detect penetrations, moles, and potential dissidents and whistleblowers. And terrorists. And pedophiles. And narcotics smugglers. 
What we should not do is engage in surveillance that is suspicionless and indiscriminate. Surveillance must be focused, precise, targeted, and legal. It must, in short, comply with the Fourth Amendment, which states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” 
That is it. That is the entirety of the Fourth Amendment. It is very clear, it is very simple, and you can immediately see that when NSA collects everything, everywhere, from everyone, it violates this cornerstone of American jurisprudence. 
This is the bottom line. There is no need to debate the guilt or patriotism of Edward Snowden. Simply perceive that suspicionless mass surveillance is fundamentally incompatible with the Fourth Amendment, and this entire controversy vanishes. 
All that we need to insist upon is this: get a warrant. From a real court, and a real judge, every time. And remember that the convenience of the federal government does not trump your Fourth Amendment rights. 
If you believe this, then you are on the right side of history. Snowden’s guilt or patriotism is a sideshow, a distraction. 
You will end up in this place if you simply read the Snowden documents. Do the forbidden. Be bad. 
Sometimes we must.


Snowden is No Traitor, and Here is Why.

"He told me, in Moscow: "It's not that I'm some special messenger blessed by God or anyone else to take on this role. It's just that, if you look around the table and nobody else is doing it, year after year, you realize, if you don't do it, it's not going to happen."
 --Barton Gellman
How the Treason Meme Began
At the bottom of this page is a link to an interview with Edward Snowden, conducted on 11 October, 2014, courtesy of The New Yorker. It is a little more than an hour long. It is conducted by Jane Mayer.
I recommend that you watch this interview, then rewind it to about the 25:00 minute mark and watch it again. That is where you will see Snowden explain the widely reported criticisms of William Binney, who stated over a year ago that Snowden "went too far," that Snowden's leaks regarding foreign targets compromised by NSA verged on "treason."
Mr. Binney later recanted that statement, he now subscribes to Snowden’s assessment of the situation, and he characterizes Snowden as a "patriot," not as a "traitor."
In the debate on Snowden as either patriot or traitor, Binney opts for the former: “I would put him as a patriot, yes. He is trying to stand up for the Constitution. That’s what we all did and our government attacked us for doing that. So, in my view, the government is the criminal here.”
Worse for Snowden critics, after more than a year of Snowden revelations, Mr. Binney, the architect of THINTHREAD, now warns of a global despotic tyranny that is intended to control entire populations

Snowden is Working for the Chinese? 
One of the earliest Snowden leaks was made by Snowden himself to the South China Morning Post. Speaking from Hong Kong, that revelation rocked NSA's world, and the fears of the deep state and the paranoia of American intelligence skyrocketed. In retrospect, sober analysts realized that Snowden's leak in this instance did not concern military targets, it did not refer to NSA penetration of Chinese military targets, which are appropriately surveilled by American intelligence. What it revealed was NSA penetration of Chinese economic targets, Chinese health infrastructure, Chinese university networks, Chinese civilian networks
There is no question that Snowden knows in detail which Chinese military targets are penetrated by NSA. He could provide lists of those devices, or he could have done so before he went to Moscow, had he desired to curry favor with the Chinese government or if he had engaged in any sort of quid pro quo exchange with them. That never happenedIf Snowden blew every Chinese military target and every Chinese infrastructure node compromised by NSA, the consequences would be catastrophic, and American intelligence efforts would suffer a setback that would take us a generation to repair, if it were even feasible. It would be impossible to conceal such a disaster.

I have long said that the most valuable real estate on the planet is the six inches between Snowden's ears. Nobody in history so meticulously stole, read, processed, sorted and filed such an archive of the most highly classified information possessed by American intelligence. Nobody knows more about NSA and FVEY than Snowden, not even the current DIRNSA. He does not have time to read it all. Snowden did. Snowden sorted his archive with a diligence that Glenn Greenwald characterized as "elegant," including explanatory FAQs and definitions of highly technical material. 

Snowden is often criticized because he blew the whistle in Hong Kong, and then accepted asylum in Russia. Snowden carefully studied the persecution of prior NSA whistleblowers, and he realized that there was no internal policy that he could follow. Snowden knew that he would be immediately arrested and imprisoned pending trial if he leaked NSA documents in any American jurisdiction. So to Hong Kong he went. And in contrast to previous NSA whistleblowers, he decided to take documents. Conservatively 200,000 of them. The family jewels of American SIGINT.

" ... He talked about Bill Binney. He talked about Tom Drake. He talked about some of the others. He said that when you try to work the system from the inside, first of all, the system will reach out and crush you. ... 
The other lesson he learned from Drake and Binney is that you can be discredited or your claims deflected, or people won't know whether to believe you if you don't have proof. And it was because of that that he decided it had to be documents, and it had to be a lot of documents, because one document would be one story. ... 
It had to be proof. It had to be documents, and it had to be a lot of documents, because one document is one story. Maybe it goes on for a few days, and people stop. And in the context that will be described by the U.S. government, it will be, "Well, that's just this thing over here." He wanted to show the breadth and depth of the surveillance state that had grown up with(out) our knowledge. And to do that, there had to be a lot of material, a lot of perspectives on it, and a lot of stories over time."

More Detail
Here are the words of Thomas Drake, a former super grade at NSA, who was prosecuted under the Espionage Act for dissenting against the wholesale surveillance of Americans. After a ruinous legal battle, all charges were dropped, except for a lone charge of unauthorized use of a computer. Drake was bankrupted by his prosecution. His life was demolished. On Snowden:
"He knew he would have to escape the United States to have any chance of getting explosive documentation detailing how vast the surveillance state had grown, had gone, both domestically as well as overseas, just bulk-copy access to millions and millions of records of citizens, both U.S. citizens as well as other citizens, completely innocent, had nothing to do with any kind of investigation, right -- this pathological condition now that is now fully institutionalized."
Snowden by his own testimony purged all copies of purloined documents in his possession after he turned them over to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong. Snowden took no documents with him when he departed Hong Kong, he sanitized his devices, and he landed in Moscow empty handed, because he knew that he would be vulnerable to interdiction as he traveled to asylum in South America. Snowden stored no data on his infamous four laptops. He kept it all on encrypted thumb drives. He took none with him. 

Barton Gellman describes Snowden:
"But one of the jobs he had was to train U.S. intelligence personnel on how to operate in what's called a high-threat digital environment, how to go to a place where you know you're under surveillance by somebody good, and threat model is China, and how to use, even on untrusted hardware, even on a machine that might have been compromised by the bad guys, how to communicate securely. That's the kind of thing he was good at. And sometimes he was asked to train other intelligence personnel on how to do that."
It is rumored, often speculated, that Snowden uploaded an encrypted archive of his purloined documents to some dark corner of the internet, where it waits, as a sort of doom's day deadman's switch, to erupt in the event of his untimely death or his arrest. Snowden scoffs at the notion, asking why he would do something that might incite his assassination by agents of the American state. The rumors persist. Diane Roarke states that Snowden indeed did do this, precisely because he feared assassination. 

You must keep in mind that Snowden was selected by DIA to teach cyber-countermeasures for the Chinese counterintelligence course at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy. Snowden is deeply trained, contrary to glib criticisms that he "could not possibly know what he knows," or "he could not possibly have access to so many compartments." To assess this high school dropout with a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certificate as "bright" would be an understatement (Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide, pg. 59). No one in history ever pulled a coup comparable to Snowden.

Again, Barton Gellman on Snowden:

"Right. In the early days, people talked about him as some kind of a low-level technician. He couldn't possibly have access to all this stuff. You have to realize that, in the CIA and the NSA, a lot of times the number of policymakers, people at the top who know about a thing, is very small. But you need a lot more people at the operating level to know, or you can't get done at all.

So in the CIA, Snowden had clearances for human intelligence. In the NSA, he had clearances for many, many compartments, specially protected parts of top-secret information in what's called signals intelligence. That's the electronic surveillance. And he had a third set of powers, which is actually called super user, when you're a system administrator in which you have root-level access to processes that anybody else would be locked out from. And that combination of human and signals intelligence and super user, sys admin power, it's a very potent combination that opened many, many doors to him."

The Task Force Fails
As events transpired, Snowden ended up stranded in Moscow, in a misstep that should have caused heads to roll in Langley, Foggy Bottom, and the White House. The task force running the effort to apprehend Snowden directed the State Department to cancel Snowden's passport while he was in Hong Kong, hoping to strand him there, and then pressure the Chinese government to expel him back to America. Instead, the Chinese put Snowden on a plane, and once he landed at Sheremetyevo, ahead of a connecting flight to Havana and then South America, the Russians declined to let him continue on his way. And why would they? Never in history had such a prize just plopped into their hands. 

Snowden spent 40 days in the transit terminal at that airport, and there is no question that he was interviewed by the Russian FSB. The geniuses responsible for stranding Snowden in Moscow, and delivering him straight into the loving hands of the Russian FSB, were never held accountable.  No one knows what transpired between Snowden and the FSB, but he should not have been stranded there in the first place. Seriously: what the fuck was that? 
The bottom line: no Chinese military penetrations by NSA went offline after Snowden went public. NSA would know instantly if Snowden compromised NSA military penetrations because they would go dark. Snowden did not do that, and NSA knows it. Compromised Chinese military devices remain online, and NSA retains much access, though China is incrementally hardening its networks, an exercise which will take some time. 

Indeed, China is now counterattacking, in a deniable cyberwar that pits hackers against hackers. Likewise with Russia. There is no evidence that the FSB got anything useful out of Snowden. Just as in China, no Russian devices that were compromised by NSA went offline. NSA has compromised legions of devices worldwide: routers, switches, controllers, servers, all manner of infrastructure, and such network devices in China and Russia will always be priority targets. 

One observation that Snowden makes, and it is pertinent: if NSA had proof of treason committed by him, it would be front page news. The task force demonizing Snowden would exploit it to escalate their continuing campaign of character assassination against him. That has not happened, because Snowden did not commit treason. Not by any definition. 

Treason and the Founding Fathers
Treason is the lone crime defined in the Constitution, in Article I, Section 3: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." Accordingly, 18 U.S. Code  §  2831 incorporates the same definition. Snowden has manifestly not waged war on America, nor adhered to our enemies. Residing in Russia because the American government trapped him there does not qualify as adhesion.

Indeed, Snowden acted out of profound patriotism, and a deep understanding of what it means to be American. Remember that the Framers were themselves brigands and revolutionaries who waged a war of independence against the English Crown. They knew exactly what was treason, and what was not. Think on that, the next time that some Snowden critic, some Congressman, some bureaucrat, condemns Snowden as a traitor. They could not even be bothered to read the actual statute. Groupthink much? 

Finally, you could always go back and ask William Binney about his statement. That old quote of his alleging potential “treason” on the part of Snowden happened a million years ago in internet time, and his theoretical response to a hypothetical question was quickly revised. Binney continually issues retractions and clarifications on the issue, but the meme persists, mostly because it meshes with the party line flogged by Snowden critics. 

Mr. Binney appeared at the New Yorker event. His patriotism and his integrity are unimpeachable. If Mr. Binney felt that Snowden engaged in treason, he would not attend such functions, nor would he speak in support of him. Remember that Mr. Binney is not well. His health is not good. The American government is not doing him any favors, and this is a man who dedicated 36 years of his life to the service of NSA. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Binney. 

In truth, we owe an un-payable debt to all recent NSA whistleblowers. It is worth mentioning that they unanimously support Edward Snowden.

The FVEY Panopticon
Understanding the global surveillance network which is arising in the form of FVEY is critical, not just because it affects Americans, but because it affects the liberties, the security, and the privacy of all users of the internet worldwide. Suspicionless mass surveillance threatens the integrity of the internet itself as a whole, and Snowden, like any cypherpunk, comes down on the side of the digital proletariat, his people, opposing The Man, opposing any threat imperiling the liberties of mankind. 

Above all, Snowden acts as any good son of the internet should. Snowden acts to secure the net, he sees the net as the patrimony of humanity. While it is true that the net was invented in America, deriving from the DOD program ARPANET, and it is also true that ICANN, an American nonprofit, controls the root DNS registries, there is increasing pushback from other countries that insist that the American government must temper its digital hegemony.

Although the net may reflect much American innovation in practice, it does not belong to us, and no lone nation, not us, not anyone, can claim “ownership” of it. That NSA would seek to subvert the internet and convert it into a mechanism of global surveillance is cynical and heretical in the extreme.
I myself think that the problem of FVEY could end up eclipsing NSA and FBI domestic abuses which directly violate the Fourth Amendment. When you understand how FVEY works, how the British GCHQ acts for the benefit of NSA, and NSA acts for the benefit of GCHQ, the supporting roles played by the Canadian CSEC, Australian ASD, and the New Zealand GCSB, you suddenly realize that FVEY is a transnational entity that is subject to no independent oversight and it acts with near impunity due to the cult of state secrecy, the perpetual fear of terrorism,™ and the endless sums available to it through NSA black budgets. 

When you fold in the role played by the German BND and the Israeli ISNU, aka Unit 8200, which enjoys unfettered, non-minimized access to raw NSA intercepts, and other "Third Party SIGINT relationships" with national SIGINT agencies worldwide, you see that NSA created a global Leviathan whose potential for abuse is off the charts (Greenwald, No Place to Hide, pp. 150-1). FVEY as currently comprised is a threat of historical proportions, and a temptation for tyrants. If you wish, think of it in terms of SkyNet

The monster that was birthed is weakly shackled at this time because it is still young, but it is evolving and maturing, and it was usurped by the mandarins of the intelligence community from its inception. When a turnkey system of global social control can be abused by all too human hegemons, the potential dystopia lurking in our collective future can barely be imagined. As Snowden told Greenwald and Poitras in Hong Kong, this is not science fiction. 

Collect It All
The FVEY grid, in fact, threatens everybody that interacts with the internet. It is the “collect it allmentality, the malign vision of near omniscience, the cover provided by public ignorance, the cult of official secrecy, and the proliferation of black budgets that enables FVEY to metasticize with no oversight (Greenwald, No Place to Hide, pp. 124-5). 

This is a serious, serious problem. It endangers humanity. All of us. Snowden characterized it by saying, "we are building the greatest weapon for oppression in the history of man." The danger that FVEY will be abused for purposes of political control has already come to pass, and the temptation to exploit it further will prove irresistible  Nobody can truly control all of the multifarious parts of FVEY. Not even NSA. The only control that can potentially curb the boundless ambition of FVEY is funding. The more that we permit NSA to redirect its unaccountable black budgets to FVEY systems, the more that we undermine the integrity and the security of the internet as a whole. 
You must also remember that systemic vulnerabilities cannot be monopolized by FVEY. The Chinese and the Russians are digesting the Snowden disclosures, and they are seeking to piggyback on American innovation and exploit the same weaknesses that we are propagating. As we warn and arm ourselves with information, we are also raising alarms in Beijing and Moscow, and they will act. Indeed, they must. You see similar patterns everywhere, in countries worldwide.

Corporate malefactors will also be able to exploit these vulnerabilities, and there are mafias in the world that are so wealthy that they can play in this sandbox, and they will. Hackers are a perennial threat. Corporations that sell solutions for mass surveillance are doing gangbuster business, with few constraints

Russia also deniably delegates its dirty work to poorly controlled hacking gangs, with recent cyber attacks against American financial firms. It is speculated that this is a Russian response to American-led sanctions concerning the Ukraine. The integrity of the dollar as the de facto reserve currency of the world is undermined by recent currency agreements between China and Russia. The secondary and tertiary effects of American SIGINT policies are wide-ranging, and we cannot foresee all ends. Nobody can.

FVEY Must be Blown
When you understand the scope and the intent of the FVEY system, you realize that the Snowden disclosures that blow foreign intelligence programs focused on other countries are crucial, as they expose the anatomy of the global grid and their national agencies participating in multilateral intelligence sharing agreements (Greenwald, No Place to Hide, pp. 149-50). 

It is likewise imperative to reveal the complicity of both American and foreign firms that cooperate with NSA and with FVEY, whether their cooperation is coerced or willing, not to mention unilateral GCHQ and NSA penetrations of companies handling the infrastructure of the net. 

Indeed, blowing such programs is principled: such abuses must be compromised, as they abet an American imperialism that is destined for the dustheap of history, and domestic violations of the Constitution which rise to the level of impeachable offenses. 

Diane Roarke was the senior staffer responsible for the NSA account at the House Intelligence Committee at the time that FVEY was unleashed, working there between 1985-2002. She is a whistleblower that you have not heard about. This is what she says about NSA mass surveillance directed at Americans:
"So I think what has happened is this has trickled down from we initially became a national security state; we are now becoming a police state in which this huge database with everything on everybody is being used for criminal prosecutions. That's a police state. That is our liberties just simply evaporating."
"It is now quite obvious, since the Snowden revelations, that the program grew progressively over time. Initially, I knew that it involved a lot of broad domestic surveillance, bulk collection, domestically. And I knew that it involved emails, landlines, regular house phones, cell phones. I also knew that they had branched out into non-communications data. [ ... ] ... we all know that transportation data, airline data is connected. We know that international banking data is collected; that has been acknowledged. But there have been allusions to other items, too, by people hypothetically, such as credit, medical, banking and so on."
The "Foreign Intelligence" Lie
It is an outright lie that such NSA systems are solely focused on foreign intelligence targets, which would be compliant with the NSA charter. There are numerous systems which deliberately collect the data of Americans, most run by NSA and FVEY, and others under the aegis of the FBI Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU), and the DEA Special Operations Division. The mechanisms exploited to authorize such data capture include National Security Letters, an artifice which is indistinguishable from the hated general warrants of the Revolutionary War era, FISA warrants justified by the Patriot Act Section 215 and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act, and reinterpretations and amendments to Executive Order 12333

Glenn Greenwald:
"So much of the spying that we revealed has blatantly nothing to do with terrorism, whether it be spying on oil companies in Brazil, such as Petrobras, or spying on economic summits where governments negotiate economic agreements, or spying on U.S. law firms representing Indonesia in trade talks, or directing the spying system at hundreds of millions or billions of people indiscriminately.  
Terrorism is the pretext used to justify the system but is not, in fact, its actual purpose as evidenced by the huge amount of spying they do that have nothing to do with that. 
The other aspect to it is, that if you were to have a system that actually was about directed spying, targeted spying aimed at terrorists, you could make the case that the system is about stopping terrorist plots. When you collect billions of emails and telephone calls around the world every day indiscriminately, it actually makes it more difficult to stop terrorist plots because you have such a vast amount of information that it's impossible even to know what it is that you had. What the NSA is doing actually makes detecting terrorist plots harder not easier, on top of destroying people's privacy." 
The other members of FVEY also collect data on American citizens and share the take with NSA, and by extension, with DOJ, CIA, FBI, and DHS. Multiple data sources from foreign and domestic systems are integrated, including location metadata, banking transactions, travel, and medical records, in addition to telecommunications metadata, internet data of all types, content, and even snail mail. This assault on our liberties is insidious, and it threatens our cherished self-image of what it means to be American.

The true danger of such systems was described by NSA whistleblower Russell Tice, who has been characterized by the intelligence community as crazy. Tice may indeed be crazy. That does not mean that he is wrong. Diane Roarke cites him, and that is good enough for me. This excerpt is from his Wikipedia entry. I have inserted links to the sources:
Later during the summer of 2013 Tice alleged that during his employment with the NSA, the agency had a program that targeted the phone and computer conversations, word for word, of members of Congress, the Supreme Court, Admirals and Generals, and that the NSA had wiretapped Barack Obama while he was a Senate candidate, saying he had seen and held papers ordering such actions. Tice claimed the surveillance extended to lawyers and law firms, judges (one of whom, Samuel Alito "is now sitting on the Supreme Court ... two are former FISA court judges"), State Department officials, people "in the executive service that were part of the White House", antiwar groups, US companies and banking and financial firms that do international business, NGOs and humanitarian groups such as the Red Cross, and antiwar civil rights groups. In his opinion, this 'wide-ranging' surveillance could offer intelligence agencies 'unthinkable power to blackmail their opponents'.
Abuse of State Power
For undeniable proof of domestic misuse and abuse of such systems, you need look no further than the war that NSA and the deep state waged against NSA whistleblowers. Though many Americans may not know the names of James BamfordDiane Roarke, Kirk Wiebe, Ed Loomis, Thomas Drake, James Risen, William Binney, Thomas Tamm and Russell Tice, Snowden was acutely aware of them, and their legal maltreatment convinced him that he had no alternative but to flee America, absconding with the family jewels. Abusing our legal system to persecute American patriots obeying their sworn oaths to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, disfigures our own rule of law, a cornerstone of our Republic. 

Here is Kirk Wiebe on NSA whistleblowing:
"Clearly there's no adequate outlet for whistleblowers who have legitimate, honest complaints to make. I don't think we'd be sitting here today if Kirk Wiebe, Ed Loomis, Bill Binney, Tom Drake, Diane Roark and Ed Snowden had a good, robust path for whistleblowers to get an honest hearing about things wrong in their home organizations, especially those that violate the basic rights of Americans.

When that process is broken, there can be no truth. And there will be no truth, because all of this going after Snowden and going after us tells all other employees: "Don't you ever cross us by telling the truth. We don't want you to." Imagine running your family that way, teaching people to lie, or hold a lie. It's not a secret. This isn't about classified material. This is about corrupt, dishonest, criminal behavior. There's a huge difference."
Here are the words of Thomas Tamm, a former DOJ lawyer in the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, who leaked information regarding warrantless surveillance of Americans to James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times:
"So I started asking questions, and I asked a supervisor of mine if she knew what the program was about. She told me that she just assumed that what we were doing was illegal and she didn't want to ask any questions. That really ate away at me and bothered me, because I thought I had gone into law enforcement to enforce the law. I didn't like the fact that I thought, or that a supervisor thought, that we might be doing something illegal."
Again, William Binney:
"Well, I couldn't be an accessory to the violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in the country. I couldn't be an accessory to that, or an accessory to other crimes being committed, like exposing all this data to the FBI. It was acquired without a warrant, you know. And this is the kind of data that they would use to arrest people, which they did. So I couldn't be a party to that. That's just a total violation of our justice process."
Abuse of State Power is Now Systemic
You see a similar pattern of misconduct in New Zealand, where the deep state was exposed by a journalist named Nicky Hagar. Mr Hagar just had his electronic devices impounded. Hagar published a celebrated book called Dirty Politics right before recent elections, documenting political malfeasance by the government. A minister was forced to resign, but the John Key government won a convincing victory at the polls, which it interpreted as a mandate to crush dissent. It wasted no time.

In Germany, the Federal Chancellery threatened members of the Bundestag with prosecution after documents provided to an NSA Committee of Inquiry were leaked to the media. The data that was leaked referred to BND collaboration with NSA, including programs that compromised the data of millions of German citizens. 

The German government claimed that Germans were not subject to mass surveillance. Then it furnished an oversight committee populated with opposition members with documents that demonstrated the opposite, and they were upset when these documents leaked. Now the government is refusing to disclose further documents which detail its close collaboration with NSA, stating that its bilateral agreement with NSA prohibits it. 

An unnamed American official actually stated that NSA could veto information shared with the Bundestag, a shockingly arrogant statement, indicative of the worst American imperialism. When legislative oversight cannot happen without intimidation, the checks and balances of our mechanisms of governance are threatened. When information that should be divulged to the citizenry cannot be shared due to a cult of state secrecy, a fundamental abuse of state power occurs. When the United States of America decrees that it can dictate what documents are shared by a foreign government with its Parliament, it is clear that we are led by buffoons. 

What we see with NSA, FBI and FVEY running amok is evidence of the transnational deep state, a nepotistic commingling of national security agencies and global private contractors, a concept which is antithetical to our national values. And yet, it undeniably exists, and in suppressing whistleblowers, we see it acting for the most malign purposes. The only known antidote is transparency. The perpetrators fear exposure beyond all other threats. They can only do what they do if we permit them to cloak themselves in a mantle of state secrecy. 

As the saying goes, we live in interesting times. Defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic is now an act of resistance.

FVEY Blowback
NSA routinely denies that it collects intelligence that is then relayed to American companies for their financial benefit. But the historical record, as it has been corrected and informed by the Snowden disclosures, reveals otherwise. Examples, deceit and hypocrisy abound (Greenwald, No Place to Hide, pp. 164-6). There is no question that SIGINT informs American diplomatic efforts internationally, and this is often about trade agreements and economic concerns. But the problem goes deeper than that, and there is a flip side to it that is profoundly negative. 
When NSA alternately conspires with and victimizes American technology firms, German companies, French companies, Brazilian companies, Chinese companies, Russian companies, and customers of all nationalities worldwide, rebel against the American internet hegemony embodied by corporations like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and all the rest. These are American service providers, yes, but they are also international firms, the net is global, and so must they be, and their commercial viability is imperiled by FVEY. 

The Snowden disclosures unmask pervasive collaboration between American technology companies and NSA which grants NSA total access to all customer data, domestic and international. Such collaboration could be coerced or voluntary, with NSA paying technology firms and telecommunications providers significant sums for cooperation. NSA also engages in unilateral penetrations of internet infrastructure companies. 

NSA penetrated Google, sniffing data shuttled between internal servers. NSA suborned Microsoft, bullying that firm into abetting NSA criminality, granting access to its cloud services and actively assisting NSA in sniffing Skype and cracking Outlook. NSA infamously compromised Apple, with NSA trumpeting its ability through DROPOUTJEEP to gain root access to any iPhone worldwide. NSA extorted Yahoo when it resisted, and threatened massive fines that would quickly wipe out the company. Twitter remains embroiled in litigation against NSA, refusing to roll over like other firms. 
Just this week, the Chairman of Google warned against the balkanization of the internet. The Chinese internet already flourishes on the other side of a digital Great Wall that sequesters billions of potential customers from American internet services. China is a market that American companies covet, but the Chinese government is waging cyberwar against America, indisputably as a reaction to NSA policies. 

Silicon Valley protests NSA abuses, because the FVEY conspiracy damages their bottom lines and undermines advantages historically enjoyed by American firms. Foreign governments increasingly insist on "data localization," requiring international firms to situate servers within their national boundaries where they can be subject to national laws, and theoretically protect the data of their citizens from FVEY predation and overreach. Various countries are imposing "right to be forgotten" laws on search giants like Google. American companies are caught in a Catch-22 situation that complicates their ability to compete. 

When they attempt to protect customer privacy and resist NSA overreach, NSA and FBI respond with National Security Letters. FBI prohibits American firms from publicly complaining, swearing them to secrecy under penalty of prosecution. American firms either take NSA's money and comply, or they are compelled to cooperate under legal threat. The legal term of art for such misconduct is "extortion." This is not an exaggeration.

FVEY: Parasitical Shadow of the Net
The idea that data can be protected by preventing it from flowing through NSA's vast global dragnet is antithetical to the architecture of the internet itself, as the net is a self-correcting entity which automatically shunts data flows via the cheapest route of least resistance, routing around damage, congestion and blockages. It may be forbiddingly complex to dictate that data be fire-walled away from NSA, and it may not be feasible considering the current architecture of the internet. 

The FVEY surveillance platform that NSA erected is parasitical, attacking the internet at multiple nodes like a shadow of the net, lurking always in the background. These programs are ruinously expensive, they corrupt the SIGINT agencies and private corporations of other countries, and they threaten American dominance of the internet in the longterm. FVEY does not ultimately benefit us, it does not ultimately give us mastery. 

FVEY undermines the fundamental faith between user and service that must exist before any customer clicks on a link. Researchers estimate that the blowback from the Snowden scandal could cost cloud service providers up to $180 billion dollars over the next three years. The true cost in totality is far more. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to state that the soul of the internet is jeopardized. 

FVEY is stupendously bad policy, more than just evil. It unites everyone against us, and it ensures that American firms encounter a hostile reception and suspicion worldwide. What is particularly dismaying is that the Snowden disclosures reveal an hypocrisy among American firms that demonstrates that they deserve this opprobrium. Most of them sold out their customers. Despite initial resistance, all of them rolled over for NSA, with the lone exception of Twitter. All American internet firms, including Twitter, currently comply with FBI National Security Letters and dragnet warrants issued by the FISC, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Although NSA is converting the internet as a whole into a massive surveillance system that monitors everybody, everywhere, all the time, the FVEY Leviathan has not yet attained utter completeness, many gaps and inefficiencies remain, but the intent to complete the system is an undeniable subtext throughout the NSA documents that we so far possess, and test beds running in Afghanistan, the Bahamas, and in Mexico are just the beginning. All digital events in those countries are collected, monitored, processed, databased, and sifted. So omniscience remains a goal not yet attained, for the moment. 
NSA's intention to expand the scope of such systems worldwide is a dangerous goal that can have only one purpose, and this was enunciated by William Binney: totalitarian and despotic control of captive populations. You may think that this is an apocalyptic statement, and surely, it must be an artifact of a conspiratorial mindset that has no basis in fact. You would be wrong. There can be no other purpose for the global network under construction by FVEY, and NSA's own documents attest to their ambition to capture everything and to store it in perpetuity. All that constrains them is budgets. When legal regimes are unfavorable, FVEY changes the laws. This happened most recently in New Zealand and in Australia. It is happening in Canada now. 

While present employees of the American intelligence community look at their shoes, working within insulated Special Access Programs in compartmented bureaucracies, the implications of their shortsightedness imperil us all. You need to wake up. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and snap out of your groupthink programming. Look at what you are doing. The legal authorities cited in your indoctrination are tortured and based upon flawed foundations. Look at the capabilities of these systems. Research the experiences of the NSA whistleblowers that preceded Snowden, and ask yourself why these fine Americans spoke up while you remain silent. We all understand why you do it: Fear

Resist: Doctrine of the Singleton
Find your courage. Snowden exemplifies what just one person can do. Even after the wholesale compromise of data by Chelsea Manning, nobody saw Snowden coming. Go back and read the Fourth Amendment, then reread the oath that you swore when you were hired, and focus on "all enemies, foreign and domestic." Our intelligence agencies are violating the Constitution, they are pointing the collection systems at American citizens, and you make it feasible. Finally, permit yourself to admit that these programs are ineptly administered, they are weakly audited, there is no return on investment analysis, there is no effective oversight. Fraud, waste and abuse are far too common. You see it every day. 

Here is William Binney on NSA:
"They are violating the constitutional rights of everybody by taking in all this data and building the social networks of everybody. It's a violation of the First Amendment." 
You have the right to free association. It doesn't say you have the right to free association as long as the NSA knows about it, because collecting all this metadata gives them everybody you're associating with, and how frequently and how often, and the timeline for all that association. 
So it's a violation of that one, not counting the collection of content or anything else that's related to that, which is, you know, a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, or use of it to arrest you, which is a violation of your Fifth Amendment rights, not testifying against yourself. 
So it was a total violation of the Constitution, not counting the Electronic [Communications] Privacy Act, the [Cyberspace] Electronic Security Act [CESA], all those things, and all the laws covering FCC regulations, covering telecoms. ..."

Never forget that Snowden scraped 1.7 million documents, and he did it sloppily, by intent, so that NSA would know precisely what he took. That he was able to do it at all indicts NSA management, and the question has to be asked: if a high school dropout got so much data, who else did? You need look no further than Chelsea Manning. Between the two of them, Manning and Snowden are the worst compromises of the American intelligence community in history. We can only hope that we have not been utterly penetrated by hostile intelligence services using moles that we do not know about. It must be admitted that this is a possibility.

The Snowden damage control task force is still not certain how many documents that Snowden exfiltrated, and those rocket scientists manipulated him into the opportunistic clutches of the Russian FSB, where he remains to this day, with a priceless payload between his ears. Those are your bosses. The administrators of the American intelligence community are incompetent, in over their heads, these systems are growing too fast and without adult supervision, and some programs are unquestionably unconstitutional. The potential consequences verge on the unthinkable.

Generals Hayden, Clapper and Alexander
Remember that it was Generals Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander that presided over the Frankenstein creation of the surveillance Leviathan. In the case of Alexander, his post-retirement activities evince boundless personal corruption, as he shamelessly seeks patents that derive from his years as DIRNSA, and he flogs his expertise to financial firms for retainers of hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Alexander played ball as DIRNSA, now he wants to get paid.

Consider the public statements of General Michael Hayden, who was also DIRNSA and DCI. Hayden was the man that agreed to implement the Bush administration program of warrantless surveillance against Americans that violated the Constitution, accepting the illegal authority of a misinterpreted presidential executive order that had to be twisted to compensate for the absence of legislative authority. Hayden's mea culpa, in an interview with 60 Minutes, was that mass surveillance of Americans post 9-11 was "warrantless, but warranted." This man shamelessly rationalizes a decision to rape the Constitution.

I believe that it was this act, championed by Vice President Richard Cheney's staff lawyer David Addington, this decision to reinterpret EO12333 and presidential powers under Article II of the Constitution, which will end up delineating the dawn of the FVEY era. These are not men to be trusted, they midwifed a Leviathan that cannot be sent back to the monster store, and they should be held accountable to the American people under oath before a Joint Special Committee on Mass Surveillance. 

The last time that America had intelligence committee hearings, the Pike Committee and the Church Committee fostered intelligence community reform that rectified the DNA of NSA for decades. Until 9-11. Then the focus on foreign intelligence was sacrificed out of fear of another terror™ attack, and the systems were pointed at American citizens. Along with DNI Clapper, both Alexander and Hayden lied to America, they subjected Americans to dragnet surveillance, and Clapper and Alexander both lied under oath to the Congress. Hayden wittingly broke the law.

A Magnificent Act of Civil Disobedience
So the next time that you call Snowden a traitor, all that you do is confirm for me that you do not understand his disclosures, you have not done your homework, and you are hypnotized by your programming. Your short-range, limited perspective is a threat to the Republic, and your lack of a spine jeopardizes America and Americans. I have no patience for it. You cannot claim that you lack exemplars to follow. This article has been lushly hyperlinked, and every statement made is sourced. If you insist on calling Snowden a traitor, against all evidence to the contrary, do it in your echo chambers where I will not hear it. 

Here are the words of Thomas Drake and Kurt Wiebe, NSA whistleblowers who preceded Snowden:
Drake: "I actually salute him. I will say it right here. I actually salute him, given my experience over many, many years both inside and outside the system. Remember, I saw what he saw. I want to re-emphasize that. What he did was a magnificent act of civil disobedience. He's exposing the inner workings of the surveillance state. And it's in the public interest. It truly is." 
Wiebe: "Well, I don't want anyone to think that he had an alternative. No one should (think that). There is no path for intelligence-community whistle-blowers who know wrong is being done. There is none. It's a toss of the coin, and the odds are you are going to be hammered."
Here is more from Wiebe:
"The Snowden data is irrefutable evidence that the government, on a large scale, is breaking our laws under the Constitution of the United States, breaking them unequivocally, and on a large scale. And if you want to think globally, it's doing the same for innocent people all over the world. And it has partners in crime doing the same thing. So we have a rogue bunch of intelligence people who think it's OK to do this. We've got a real problem, because now your privacy of thought and actions as an individual is gone. ..."
No one should trivialize the personal impact that NSA whistleblowing entails. Your life will be upended, should you choose to follow the path blazed by previous whistleblowers. But the trend line of history is now clear, NSA and FVEY are on the wrong side, they represent everything that is pernicious and foul about the dark side of humanity. 

Here is Barton Gellman on the character of Edward Snowden:
"I said to Snowden, before and after I knew his identity, that I was going to do everything in my power as a journalist, in a normal journalistic way, to keep his identity secure, that I was not going to be sharing it, for example, with my editors, and he said: "You're not going to have to worry about that. It won't be long before I announce myself." 
I said, "Why would you do that?," and he said he didn't want the story to be about some sneaky leaker. He did not want his co-workers and his family to bear the brunt of one of these come-down-on-everyone investigations, where everyone is a suspect, and everyone's life is disrupted. He wanted to take responsibility.

And he told me that he wanted to be actually a model for other whistleblowers, that he wanted to show that you could come out and tell the truth about something you thought was wrong, and you didn't have to hide."
By now, there have been enough disclosures for any thinking, sane analyst to recognize the true threat represented by FVEY. If you have not yet done your homework, get moving. More disclosures are coming, and principled and informed opposition is needed, particularly from inside the belly of the beast. 

Wake up. For God’s sake: wake up. America needs us. Let the Snowden documents set you free. 

You can find them at freesnowden.is, cryptome.org, aclu.org, eff.org, and elsewhere. 
Here is the interview:

Tiresome Thomas Schoenberger

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